A woman who stopped to help a critically injured deer at the side of a busy road told how she 'witnessed the very best of humanity' in her efforts to get it to safety.

Jennifer Elkin thanked those who helped her following a distressing experience which led to the deer having to be put down.

It is thought the animal had been hit by a vehicle - and could have been lying injured at the side of the A35 near Bridport for almost two days before it was spotted.

When Jennifer came across it, it was concious although its back legs were almost severed.

The incident has prompted a warning to drivers to look out for deer.

Jennifer told how she was driving back home to Bridport on the afternoon of January 6 which she described as being drizzly and overcast.

She said: "I spotted a deer at the roadside which was obviously injured but I noticed that its head was up. There was nowhere to pull in so I drove a little further until I came to a lay-by and walked back along the verge.

"It struggled and bellowed in fear at the sight of me but I sat down on the grass, cradled its head and held my other hand on its back so that I could restrain it. After a few minutes it became calm."

Jennifer didn't have her phone with her but was able to contact her husband via her Apple Watch and told him to call the RSPCA. Unfortunately, rescuers could not respond unless they were given an exact position and she was unable to confirm exactly where she was between Askerswell and Bridport.

She continued: "With the light getting dimmer and real fear setting in, a wonderful thing happened. A young man in a van pulled up on the other side of the road, put on his hazard lights and asked me if I needed help."

Jennifer said the man, who she only knew as 'David' helped her get the deer off the road and into his van. This was made possible after a police car stopped shortly afterwards and the officer halted traffic so they could move the animal safely.

Jennifer climbed in with the deer and she suggested it was taken to Bredy Vets and they rang ahead to let them know.

She said: "The senior vet found both back legs so badly broken they had almost severed and, to make matters worse, he said that it had probably been in that condition for at least 48 hours.

"David and I were devastated but so grateful for the kindness. They put a towel over its head, wrapped a blanket around it and carried it gently into the surgery where they gave it pain relief and then put it to sleep."

Jennifer added: "I didn’t have time to thank everyone adequately but had it not been for David, the policeman and the staff at Bredy Vets, we could not have brought relief to that beautiful animal so quickly. A sad end but it could have been much worse.

"I witnessed the very best of humanity that day and would like to say a profound thank you."

Jennifer said it was her personal choice to stop and help the deer and was not critical of those who didn't stop - in fact the conditions and location would've made it difficulty for anyone to pull over.

Bredy Vets said: ''We examined the deer that was brought into the practice - unfortunately its injuries were too severe to treat. Therefore we administered pain relief before humanely euthanizing.

"As vets, we will see and treat wildlife at the practice and if appropriate send for rehabilitation."

The British Deer Society say the number of deer killed or injured on UK roads is likely to exceed 40,000 and may well be nearer 74,000. A high proportion of deer which are hit by cars are not killed outright.

It advises drivers to be 'deer aware' - highest-risk times of seeing deer cross roads are from sunset to midnight, and the hours shortly before and after sunrise. If you see one be aware that more deer may well cross afterwards.

Don’t over-swerve to avoid hitting a deer. If a collision with the animal seems inevitable, then hit it while maintaining full control of your car is the safest option.

Only brake sharply and stop if there is no danger of being hit by following traffic, and use your hazard lights.

If you see an injured deer on the roadside or hit a deer call the police who will have access to specialists.